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A few problems I have...

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First a quick introduction, i'm new here (and somewhat new to Objectivism) so I may not understand everything perfectly, feel free to correct me where i'm wrong. I consider reading Atlas Shrugged a few months back to be a life changing event in how it's started to change all of my thinking about nearly everything, there are just a few sticking points. I'll list most of them in one topic for now, since they may not even need in depth debating or argument, since i'm not out to prove anything, I don't hold any feelings too strongly or dogmatically since I view my beliefs as a process unfolding based upon information that changes the playing field. I just want to find the truth. It's just things that i've noticed so far.

This isn't so much arguments against Objectivism (in the sense that arguing something else is superior) but rather problems i've encountered that I don't see it having any easy answers to, or at least that i've found so far.

SOME OF MY PROBLEMS WITH OBJECTIVISM:

The biggest problem is that it strikes me as utopian. By utopian I mean "requires people to be better than they've ever been before." What Rand seems to describe is a world without any kind of regulation or interference in "free contract" of any kind and motivated exclusively by selfishness. I have doubts whether such a society would actually survive multigenerationally. A few examples:

- The only way to enforce Objectivist rules is basically with a total police state. The state would have to have absolute dominant power over every potential threatening force against either the state itself or the individuals within the state. Such a position of domination in the past has led to corruption 100% of the time. I see no alternative except a police state to enforce Objectivist rules of interaction, because any other society would break down if the economic differences were too profound, even if for "fair" and "moral" reasons. A police state would eventually feed on it's own people, it would not lovingly and honorably protect them from the hostiles outside - it would simply become the hostile itself, at least over time. If you don't have a police state, then it's simply a question of might makes right - if the mob ever gets well armed or organized, or intelligent while remaining socialistic, they will probably win. I have my doubts whether supermen like John Galt who have unilateral technological domination over the unwashed masses exist in the real world, and if they did they wouldn't need anyone for anything anyways. I don't see high technology normally developed by the mobs, but even if you look in the nightmare of soviet russia you see some damn clever engineering for certain things. (even if it was not "moral" to have public ownership of the mind as such) What I guess i'm saying is that I see the rules of survival to be irrelevant of "morality", Randian or otherwise.

- Ive seen hubris in many Objectivist debaters when i've observed discussions as a third party. They seem to immediately accuse anyone who doesnt agree with them as being both illogical and immoral. I'm not saying that Rand didn't make appropriate judgements about why the self shouldn't be a sacrificial lamb to others, but i've seen people read the book and be "empowered" in their own seeming illogic, as if they have been given permission to judge for themself and then show others how bad their judgement really is. What i'm saying is that the worship of Mind and Logic doesn't seem to make one free from mental illness, even if it is preferable or perhaps less risky than the worship of emotional extremes and religious or social dictates. I agree with granting moral sanction that only you can judge whether something is true to you, but I still have seen some delusional idiots who claim to be objectivists and become completely impenetrable and wont hear ANY argument from anyone because they're sure everyone is stupid and evil when it's probably the other way around.

- If Objectivist thought was really all cut and dried I dont see why there would be any split between different camps of Objectivists. (my understanding is there is a split between Peikoff and Rand) I see dogmatically sticking to one argument and refusing new data due to both sides claiming logical and moral perfection to be an example of the exact behavior I thought was trying to be avoided and argued against.

- I see the origin of Objectivism to be a knee jerk response to a society with an over-abuse of ideas like guilt, religiously dictated morality (without explanation), socially dictated morality and culture (without personal input) intended to make the individual a slave to others. I don't know that I believe it is the most effective way for either individuals or a community to survive however. For instance, if you have a society that is exclusively protected by mercenaries (which is all the police and military can be in an Objectivist selfishness and money driven society) I don't see what prevents the mercenaries from simply turning against you because they have no higher moral order to care about. I don't see a mercenary dying for some ideal. Whereas one that is dedicated to some collectively shared ideal that people actually believe in, even if that ideal is false or engineered like "Jesus" or "the seventh generation", would refrain from predatory behavior on their own people, likely engage in sacrifical lamb behavior (Even if morally wrong) and likely guarantee survival of the group alot better.

What I see in Rand is observations of technological determinism, and that positive motivation (Henry Ford paying his workers well) works better than negative motivation (Stalin threatening to send you to the gulag if you dont come up with a better jet intake design this month) for making the Mind produce, but i'm not sure whether I agree that strict capitalism would give the best results in terms of say total social technological progress rather than some mix. (and for the record I don't like saying that, it would be easier if the weight of evidence were overwhelming or everything was cut and dried)

Some examples of "free market transactions" that as far as I could tell are either permissable or turn Objectivism into something else:

- An unscrupulous man decides he wants to rent out his children for sex. There are willing pedophile buyers. Or lets say a man has collected human slaves from some more primitive culture, and there are willing plantation buyers. Under Objectivism it seems this is just a free market transaction and is morally okay since morality seems redefined in economic terms to mean only that which benefits you. If it's not, and someone should stop it, who is it that would stop it, the state? Even if it does stop it, the state would have to have alot of power to start meddling in others lives.

- A man operating a nuclear waste disposal company engages in a contract with a nuclear power plant to get rid of their waste. He simply ships it 5000 miles away and dumps it in the aquifer of some native tribe and some local forest, because he bought the land and dug a deep well. This seems to be morally okay because it is a free contract between two individuals, right? Afterall it seems that the opinions of the potential stakeholders (those affected by a decision) are irrelevant, and simply dumping it "away from here" is alot cheaper and simpler than trying to vitrify it and bury it into a mountain where it wont hurt anyone, so the cheaper solution is chosen.

This isn't an attempt to blackwash Objectivism by making some outrageous association, I used those outrageous rhetorical examples to attack the premise that capitalism will solve all of our problems which seems to be implied or stated much of the time. The responses seem to be either 1) dont view it as a problem (who cares?), 2) agree it's a problem but argue who will be enslaved either directly to work or whose taxes will be confiscated to pay for a free market individual to work to solve that problem and decide nothing should be done, 3) use regulation to prevent certain things from occuring in the first place or make it unprofitable to act unsustainably.

I give these examples freely stating I don't know what the right answer is btw. If you say something is a "right" then you need a global police force to insure everyone has that right, which has to be funded, which either comes voluntarily or from taxes. Even if you dont enter into "morality" and simply enforce economic and legal contracts, you are still stating there are certain rights, you are regulating at least the performance under contract or the noninterference of third parties in a contract between two people. (such as the pedophile buying a child whore from the father above, with a third party initiating violence against the father because they find it immoral and the police state would have to respond with extreme violence since they arent a part of that contract) I see Rand make certain observations that are accurate, and certain arguments which are sound, but i'm not sure I agree with her end conclusions or that the conclusions necessarily follow from the arguments.

Anyone care to comment? :)

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Jeez dude ... if this post represents your understanding of Objectivism, I have to ask, what is it exactly that you like about it??

The government according to Objectivism exists to protect individual rights - that is, the right to use their own mind and act however they want as long as they don't violate anyone else's right to do the same. The only way you can prevent someone from using their own mind to guide their actions is through force (physical force) or fraud. The government then exists to protect individuals from force or fraud.

A father selling his children into prostitution is OK because it's an economic exchange?? That's pretty much the most twisted logic I've ever heard. The children are individuals, not property. They can't be exchanged. That's force against the children. There's nothing OK about it.

As for "utopianism", Objectivism doesn't require that the individuals in a society agree to act or think in any particular way at all. It simply doesn't shield them from the consequences of their own irrationality, and the assumption (or observation, really) is that when people aren't protected from the consequences of being stupid and lazy, they tend to start taking care of themselves and avoiding those consequences. People are smart; nearly every single human being who is born has the capacity to figure out life. In an Objectivist society you wouldn't have to be selfish, you just wouldn't last very long if you weren't - cause that's how reality works.

If by "police state" you mean there would be police to defend against criminals and mobsters, then yeah, of course there would be police. But keep in mind that the only crime would be force or fraud, so I don't know why you seem to think we would need so many of them. Mobster-ing would become a lot less lucrative without a monopoly on illegal substances etc., so crime control would really not be as big of an issue as it is now - and I'd hardly call what we have now a "police state".

Some Objectivists and people who call themselves Objectivists are idiots. Some of them are mean idiots. Sorry. The rest of us can't really help you with that one. You're free to identify them as such and not spend your time and energy on listening to them.

There is really only one main, unsolved debate "within Objectivism", and if you look into it you'll see that it's a fairly fundamental issue to a point that the two sides really aren't saying the same things. It's more like totally different philosophies that use the same language and the same name. It's unfortunate and can be confusing, but you can look into it on your own and make a decision on who's right. It's not between Rand and Peikoff either.

That's my 2c worth, I'm sure other people will weigh in. I'd simply advise that from what I can see, your understanding of the philosophy is not very solid, but you're in the right place to get a firmer grasp on it.

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I agree with Bluey that you've misunderstood the meaning of Objectivism. It is not just a matter of degree, but of many complete inversions. I disagree that this is the right place to learn. At the level of (lacking) understanding that is apparent from your post, I suggest a forum is the wrong place for you. You need to get beyond the Wiki and the web first. Get some Objectivist non-fiction: "Virtue of Selfishness" and "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" and read those. They's collections of essays that will allow you to understanding the basics of Rand's ideas.

Edited by softwareNerd

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All I could say or all anyone should say is that you should read some more. I see a lot of misconceptions that I see no use in addressing. It'd be better for you to just read Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal or Virtue of Selfishness and then ask more specific questions.

I will address one point though.

"you are regulating at least the performance under contract or the noninterference of third parties in a contract between two people."

Well, yes it is regulation to the extent that all contracts must be enforced. To not honor your end of contract is force. In the "sex slave" example you gave, that very much sounds like the father is initiating force against his children. The government getting involved in that situation would be because of violation of rights (more specifically, individual rights).

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First a quick introduction, i'm new here (and somewhat new to Objectivism) so I may not understand everything perfectly, feel free to correct me where i'm wrong. I consider reading Atlas Shrugged a few months back to be a life changing event in how it's started to change all of my thinking about nearly everything, there are just a few sticking points. I'll list most of them in one topic for now, since they may not even need in depth debating or argument, since i'm not out to prove anything, I don't hold any feelings too strongly or dogmatically since I view my beliefs as a process unfolding based upon information that changes the playing field. I just want to find the truth. It's just things that i've noticed so far.

This isn't so much arguments against Objectivism (in the sense that arguing something else is superior) but rather problems i've encountered that I don't see it having any easy answers to, or at least that i've found so far.

SOME OF MY PROBLEMS WITH OBJECTIVISM:

The biggest problem is that it strikes me as utopian. By utopian I mean "requires people to be better than they've ever been before." What Rand seems to describe is a world without any kind of regulation or interference in "free contract" of any kind and motivated exclusively by selfishness. I have doubts whether such a society would actually survive multigenerationally. A few examples:

- The only way to enforce Objectivist rules is basically with a total police state. The state would have to have absolute dominant power over every potential threatening force against either the state itself or the individuals within the state. Such a position of domination in the past has led to corruption 100% of the time. I see no alternative except a police state to enforce Objectivist rules of interaction, because any other society would break down if the economic differences were too profound, even if for "fair" and "moral" reasons. A police state would eventually feed on it's own people, it would not lovingly and honorably protect them from the hostiles outside - it would simply become the hostile itself, at least over time. If you don't have a police state, then it's simply a question of might makes right - if the mob ever gets well armed or organized, or intelligent while remaining socialistic, they will probably win. I have my doubts whether supermen like John Galt who have unilateral technological domination over the unwashed masses exist in the real world, and if they did they wouldn't need anyone for anything anyways. I don't see high technology normally developed by the mobs, but even if you look in the nightmare of soviet russia you see some damn clever engineering for certain things. (even if it was not "moral" to have public ownership of the mind as such) What I guess i'm saying is that I see the rules of survival to be irrelevant of "morality", Randian or otherwise.

I have an issue with your definition of "utopian." If utopian is requires people to be better than they've ever been before, then a lot of things are utopian, and thus impossible to you. Practically everyone, specializing in and field, any industry, any sport, and profession in a division of labor society is required at some point to be better than they've ever been before. So what do you mean by "better?" More rational? More moral? More productive? These kind of questions are epistemologically flawed and basically boiled down to: "Why should I support Objectivism/egoism/capitalism when it's all going to fail and there's nothing you can do about it?!" Inherent in the premise of the question is, "is the society rational enough to support capitalism?" If you're saying "I don't think capitalism will last because people won't or can't be rational enough to support it," then that's kind of a circular logic and there's no anwer anyone can provide because you've already decided it won't last in your question.

I think an Objectivist society kind of presupposes a quite rational society, or else the system would not have been implimented in the first place. If you follow Rand's logic for this, she explains how any country deserves the government it has. The ideas the dominate the culture will be a key factor in its political system, which you can observe all around us today. Either a society will be rational enough to support capitalism, or it won't. Why do you think Objectivists consider ideas so important? As far as within an established capitalist government, there is always "the marketplace of ideas" which doesn't require anything from the government, except that free speech is protected.

But if by "better" you mean that Objectivism seeks to accomplish some kind of truly magical mental evolution of all mankind where no one seeks to every break any laws, and no one ever acts irrationally, and no one ever acts immorally, and everyone is perfect, then you are just mistaken about what Objectivism expects or demands. If that were the case, what would be the point of capitalism, or morality, or anything in Objectivism? In this respect, Objectivism is an extension of the logic James Madison employed in Federalist 51: If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. That is the point of an Objectivist government.

As for your comments about a "police state," that certainly doesn't describe capitalism, nor do I agree with your description of a police state. A capitalist government is based on the concept of objective law, a proceedural framework which necessitates the seperation of force from whim, which I will leave to someone more experienced in it than me to describe here, but what you are talking about is a system in which the state exercises totally arbitrary power. That sounds more like any mixed-economy, or socialist sewer. I might suggest that you read this page to perhaps increase your understanding of this concept:

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/law--obj...-objective.html

The essay "The Nature of Government" is quite helpful in this regard:

Under a proper social system, a private individual is legally free to take any action he pleases (so long as he does not violate the rights of others), while a government official is bound by law in his every official act. A private individual may do anything except that which is legally forbidden; a government official may do nothing except that which is legally permitted.

- Ive seen hubris in many Objectivist debaters when i've observed discussions as a third party. They seem to immediately accuse anyone who doesnt agree with them as being both illogical and immoral. I'm not saying that Rand didn't make appropriate judgements about why the self shouldn't be a sacrificial lamb to others, but i've seen people read the book and be "empowered" in their own seeming illogic, as if they have been given permission to judge for themself and then show others how bad their judgement really is. What i'm saying is that the worship of Mind and Logic doesn't seem to make one free from mental illness, even if it is preferable or perhaps less risky than the worship of emotional extremes and religious or social dictates. I agree with granting moral sanction that only you can judge whether something is true to you, but I still have seen some delusional idiots who claim to be objectivists and become completely impenetrable and wont hear ANY argument from anyone because they're sure everyone is stupid and evil when it's probably the other way around.

What can I say? A lot of people are illogical and immoral. I can't attest to what some other person said in a debate. I'm only responsible for myself. I would just suggest you listen to the ideas being presented and make your own judgement on them. I don't know what you mean by mental illness, though. Mental illness isn't someone being rude in a debate or someone refusing to hear another side, or someone so sure of their position that they are ruthless towards others.

- If Objectivist thought was really all cut and dried I dont see why there would be any split between different camps of Objectivists. (my understanding is there is a split between Peikoff and Rand) I see dogmatically sticking to one argument and refusing new data due to both sides claiming logical and moral perfection to be an example of the exact behavior I thought was trying to be avoided and argued against.

There seems to be a slight bit of confusion here. Rand and Peikoff never had a split. Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, not Leonard Peikoff or anyone else. The substance of Objectivism consists of the works of Ayn Rand and the works that she approved as consistent with Objectivism. Anything else has to be judged independently for what it is. As for splits, you might be thinking of the disagreement between Peikoff and Kelley.You can read about that yourself starting in "On Sanctioning the Sanctioners" by Schwartz, followed by "A Question of Sanction" by Kelley, followed by "Fact and Value" by Peikoff. (Kelley wrote a response to "Fact and Value," but imo Peikoff nailed him.) There are other disagreements, such as the Brandens vs Rand, various Libertarians and anarchists vs Rand, Alan Greenspan vs Peikoff, Alan Greenspan vs Alan Greenspan. I mean, people are individuals with their own ideas and even totally rational people have disagreements about things. Judge for yourself is all I can say.

- I see the origin of Objectivism to be a knee jerk response to a society with an over-abuse of ideas like guilt, religiously dictated morality (without explanation), socially dictated morality and culture (without personal input) intended to make the individual a slave to others. I don't know that I believe it is the most effective way for either individuals or a community to survive however. For instance, if you have a society that is exclusively protected by mercenaries (which is all the police and military can be in an Objectivist selfishness and money driven society) I don't see what prevents the mercenaries from simply turning against you because they have no higher moral order to care about. I don't see a mercenary dying for some ideal. Whereas one that is dedicated to some collectively shared ideal that people actually believe in, even if that ideal is false or engineered like "Jesus" or "the seventh generation", would refrain from predatory behavior on their own people, likely engage in sacrifical lamb behavior (Even if morally wrong) and likely guarantee survival of the group alot better.

I don't get what you are saying about mercenaries in there. What's to stop a bunch of mercenaries killing you? I don't know, you tell me? Kill them back? Or what's to stop the police from going around killing people? Maybe I am misunderstanding you, but I would refer you back to a conept called "the rule of law." If your problem is that you are living in some Objectivist society and no one obeys the law, then you aren't living under freedom or capitalism then are you? You are living in anarchy or a dictatorship.

As far as Objectivism being a "knee-jerk" to various things, I can say this is definitely not so. Objectivism is kind of neo-Aristotelianism and these concepts of the law of identity, noncontradiction, reason, morality, private property can all be traced back to Aristotle and his champions and other various, though sparse, advocates of reality, reason, and rights throughout history. So unless Aristotle is a knee-jerk to Jesus or the Democratic party, then I can't agree with you there.

What I see in Rand is observations of technological determinism, and that positive motivation (Henry Ford paying his workers well) works better than negative motivation (Stalin threatening to send you to the gulag if you dont come up with a better jet intake design this month) for making the Mind produce, but i'm not sure whether I agree that strict capitalism would give the best results in terms of say total social technological progress rather than some mix. (and for the record I don't like saying that, it would be easier if the weight of evidence were overwhelming or everything was cut and dried)

Some examples of "free market transactions" that as far as I could tell are either permissable or turn Objectivism into something else:

- An unscrupulous man decides he wants to rent out his children for sex. There are willing pedophile buyers. Or lets say a man has collected human slaves from some more primitive culture, and there are willing plantation buyers. Under Objectivism it seems this is just a free market transaction and is morally okay since morality seems redefined in economic terms to mean only that which benefits you. If it's not, and someone should stop it, who is it that would stop it, the state? Even if it does stop it, the state would have to have alot of power to start meddling in others lives.

- A man operating a nuclear waste disposal company engages in a contract with a nuclear power plant to get rid of their waste. He simply ships it 5000 miles away and dumps it in the aquifer of some native tribe and some local forest, because he bought the land and dug a deep well. This seems to be morally okay because it is a free contract between two individuals, right? Afterall it seems that the opinions of the potential stakeholders (those affected by a decision) are irrelevant, and simply dumping it "away from here" is alot cheaper and simpler than trying to vitrify it and bury it into a mountain where it wont hurt anyone, so the cheaper solution is chosen.

This isn't an attempt to blackwash Objectivism by making some outrageous association, I used those outrageous rhetorical examples to attack the premise that capitalism will solve all of our problems which seems to be implied or stated much of the time. The responses seem to be either 1) dont view it as a problem (who cares?), 2) agree it's a problem but argue who will be enslaved either directly to work or whose taxes will be confiscated to pay for a free market individual to work to solve that problem and decide nothing should be done, 3) use regulation to prevent certain things from occuring in the first place or make it unprofitable to act unsustainably.

Well now there is nothing Objectivist about this. Nothing. When Rand talks about voluntary associations and private contracts, she is certainly not talking about any of these things. For one, in order for a contract to be valid, certain confitions must be met:

valid offer and acceptance, by which one party extends an offer and the other party has an opportunity to freely accept or refuse to accept,

consideration, usually understood to mean that there is an exchange of value for value, but at the very least an exchange of wills in accordance with valid offer and acceptance,

legal intent, that is, the contract may not oblige parties to do anything which is illegal

capacity, that is, the parties are both of mind sound enough to give valid consent and agreement

None of the things you mentioned were voluntary or contracts.

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I agree with Bluey that you've misunderstood the meaning of Objectivism. It is not just a matter of degree, but of many complete inversions. I disagree that this is the right place to learn. At the level of (lacking) understanding that is apparent from your post, I suggest a forum is the wrong place for you. You need to get beyond the Wiki and the web first. Get some Objectivist non-fiction: "Virtue of Selfishness" and "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" and read those. They's collections of essays that will allow you to understanding the basics of Rand's ideas.

Yes. I meant it was a good start because you'll be directed to some good sources and be able to discuss what you're learning. It's certainly no substitute for reading the actual literature so please do follow SNerd's advice!

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Yes. I meant it was a good start because you'll be directed to some good sources and be able to discuss what you're learning. It's certainly no substitute for reading the actual literature so please do follow SNerd's advice!

I agree with bluey (does that rhyme with phooy?) and sNerd. If you are interested in Ayn Rand's philosophy, read. Don't go for the most complex stuff first, like OPAR or TIOE. Galt's speach is a good start. Her published books are good. The Objectivist Newletter and The Objectivist are very important. But read a lot more because you will find that what you have said doesn't connect with her ideas. We'd love to talk to you then.

-

Edited by Bob G

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Puppy Dog, this is a more general response, since the others have already dealt with your specific concerns.

I think it's important that one's first impression of Objectivism is a feeling. This sounds contradictory I know, as it is a philosophy of rationality, but there is one thing that ultimately is common to most O'ists, and that is the excitement they felt when first exposed to Rand's thinking. This is the "wow!"factor - or, - "I always knew that, but didn't dare say it."

Considering the disparate backgrounds, religious, liberal, sceptical, maverick, or just "don't give a shit", that I gather we all came from, it still inspires me how our numbers are swelling with people who don't only love ideas, but are also searching out the best idea.

Because that's what we want to live by.

It's going to be the initial excitement that sees a new Objectivist through; the philosophy is at the same time very broad, and very deep, with a lot to take in. Some of it seems alien, or maybe counter-intuitive, at first - but that's simply because of all those false premises we absorbed, second-hand, from others in early life. However, once one's own wheel of thinking starts turning, the input starts to accelerate, and 'fit'.

The how, the methodology, of course, will vary from one individual to another, but my personal approach would be to take in the 'breadth' of O'ism first, and then, later, begin digging in to the 'depth'.

(As for those rather confusing splits in O'ism - I consider them a little disappointing, but I now view them as only of academic interest. The basic fact remains : each of these intellectuals knows more about the philosophy than I do, and I continue to learn from all of them, as well as from other forumists. And, they are 90+% in accord. B) )

One should keep firmly in mind that O'ism is for you - your happiness and fulfilment. It is not only academic theory.

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Jeez dude ... if this post represents your understanding of Objectivism, I have to ask, what is it exactly that you like about it??

It's liberation of the self and the assertion that the Self is a legitimate Value, even the primary value in anyone's life. That none of us have any moral obligation to be the sacrificial lamb to be used and then thrown away regardless of whether those demanding the sacrifice are claiming either religious moral grounds, or social "for the benefit of all you have to be sacrificed" grounds. Besides which being extremely impressed by the precision of words and argument which Ayn Rand has laid out and how compellingly she supports her position.

I'm aware some of my "examples" sound twisted, thats because i've been having these exact arguments with... well, with friends from church so far, who say they read Atlas Shrugged before and werent impressed by it. I didn't say I understood all of Objectivism, just that I had read Atlas Shrugged, and some online articles or conversations about it so far and thats about it. These are the kind of arguments they are hitting me with, they are using them as examples of either selfishness or extreme moral indifference to economics, and they are saying this is the slippery slope it leads down and why it is a "null and void philosophy that goes nowhere" in their words. They ask me things like this and I find I have no answers, thats why i'm asking things here. I'm not seeking long drawn out debates, just trying to figure out why am I unable to answer what they are asking because i'm not sure what material to use. :-/

For what it's worth Atlas Shrugged has changed me in such a way that I will probably end up leaving everyone I know at church because I can no longer believe the things I used to believe primarily out of social pressure and coercion. I'm just still having some "last discussions" with the people whom I was still friends with while there.

The government according to Objectivism exists to protect individual rights - that is, the right to use their own mind and act however they want as long as they don't violate anyone else's right to do the same. The only way you can prevent someone from using their own mind to guide their actions is through force (physical force) or fraud. The government then exists to protect individuals from force or fraud.

A father selling his children into prostitution is OK because it's an economic exchange?? That's pretty much the most twisted logic I've ever heard. The children are individuals, not property. They can't be exchanged. That's force against the children. There's nothing OK about it.

Thats the argument I was shot down with "that Objectivism wouldnt oppose anything based on moral reasons, only economic ones, so lets use a horrible example and see if your logic still holds up." What I wanted to say is that the state would protect individual rights, but that only applies inside the society where those who operated under objectivist principles had a social contract to do so. How do you deal with "free trade with an outsider"? What if the unethical outsider shows up inside the objectivist city and wants to trade, is he banned from entering? Arrested on sight? What about a hostile foreign power like communism sending in people to allegedly do free trade, but you know the trainload of wheat they brought was extracted under slave labor?

If by "police state" you mean there would be police to defend against criminals and mobsters, then yeah, of course there would be police. But keep in mind that the only crime would be force or fraud, so I don't know why you seem to think we would need so many of them. Mobster-ing would become a lot less lucrative without a monopoly on illegal substances etc.

A state which was the bastion of personal freedom and personal responsibility without a nanny state would potentially threaten every other government on the planet that exists primarily by feeding off their own people. Much like there were arguments in europe that the americans couldn't be allowed to revolt against the british empire or the desire for freedom would spread like wildfire and elites everywhere would be threatened. I think there would be substantial forces attempting to undermine such a state personally, whether low level parasites (at first testing the boundaries), or organized crime that would later try to establish illegal drug smuggling, or an abusive external government that would claim the land youre staying on and say you owe taxes to say some large regional or global government demanding tribute. I don't know that the threats would continue indefinately, but in the beginning establishment of such a state I would expect challengers from all sides figuring out how to abuse the system or whether it could be abused or corrupted.

I also observe that free markets never seem to remain free, once extreme wealth is accumulated, history seems to show that those with the money then set up barriers to anyone competing freely with them, and I dont see any way that an "idealistic" government could stand against a determined trillionaire with a combination of bribes and implied threats that just manage to skirt around the letter of the law and so he never quite goes to jail over it. I guess thats what I mean by "utopian", I dont see the wealthy holding up a code of fair play multigenerationally because it hasn't happened before that I know of. I also guess I see certain dangers in the "selfishness" in that if people are restrained exclusively by threat of violence from the state, that puts them in a different headspace than those who are restrained by "fear of some godly power". If there is a way to abuse or corrupt the system for self gain without high risk of getting caught they would seem to be more likely to do so? I'm arguing from psychology here, not philosophy. I'm not claiming it's better to have a mythical god threatening hell either, just making an observation that there may be psychological and systemic (risk of certain types of corruption) consequences of the philosophy that i'm not sure are fully accounted for.

But that's not a part I wish to harp on, i'll try and refine my arguments better later after I do more reading, i'm just stating it in passing as a concern and where i'm arguing from. A free society seems to be one that is easy for spies to infiltrate, learn the weaknesses of, and plan ways to undermine from within or militarily attack from without. I guess I have a hard time to imagine any system that seems to be set around an ideal (preventing all force and fraud) remaining in place unless the most powerful men in that society still believed it served them or any government of employees remaining uncorruptable in a society where only money can buy the goods you need regardless of how you made that money, and the only way you could be sure money wasnt ill gotten would be to have some kind of surveillance and control grid for it like a cashless society so a black market couldn't exist. I may argue this point in a separate thread though, I just wanted to touch a bit on everything off the top of my head right now.

That's my 2c worth, I'm sure other people will weigh in. I'd simply advise that from what I can see, your understanding of the philosophy is not very solid, but you're in the right place to get a firmer grasp on it.

Well it's sensible though so far I still have my remaining questions. :) I didn't claim I understood the philosophy solidly yet either, just that reading Atlas Shrugged made the light go on in my head for the first time. So I hope others aren't too harsh on me.

I agree with Bluey that you've misunderstood the meaning of Objectivism. It is not just a matter of degree, but of many complete inversions. I disagree that this is the right place to learn. At the level of (lacking) understanding that is apparent from your post, I suggest a forum is the wrong place for you. You need to get beyond the Wiki and the web first. Get some Objectivist non-fiction: "Virtue of Selfishness" and "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" and read those. They's collections of essays that will allow you to understanding the basics of Rand's ideas.

They're in my reading queue. I should re-point out that these arent my beliefs, but arguments i've heard others make to me (about why they say "objectivism is stupid") that I have no answers for. It's just I asked some of the questions anyways because some people who have claimed they studied things more than me and supposedly rejected it pointed out some similar criticisms. Plus scanning synopses or chapter lists seemed to indicate certain questions probably wouldn't be answered in there yet anyways.

Here's one i'll ask from another angle: Is Objectivism primarily a morality or is it believed by people here that it would be the most successful way to guarantee maximum technological development and social survival?

Will respond to others in separate posts because theyre longer.

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I have an issue with your definition of "utopian." If utopian is requires people to be better than they've ever been before, then a lot of things are utopian, and thus impossible to you.

I guess what i'm saying is that I wonder whether a society based on Objectivism would either be 1) just as corruptable as any existing system we have, or 2) have to degenerate into a police state to insure that consequences always come to those who act with fraud or violence against others.

Inherent in the premise of the question is, "is the society rational enough to support capitalism?" If you're saying "I don't think capitalism will last because people won't or can't be rational enough to support it," then that's kind of a circular logic

Yes, thats what i'm trying to put words to, thank you. I'm not trying to argue for circular logic. I'm struggling to put words to a bunch of feelings thoughts and concepts that I don't yet have the precision of words or argument to flesh out yet.

Let me try another angle: I fear that an Objectivist society, would be forced to make moral compromises with it's own philosophy in order to survive. So which is more important, the survival of an Objectivist society, or respecting the ideals even if it destroys the society?

As to what is better, does OBjectivism see itself as a pinnicle incapable of further evolution or improvement, ie - a perfect system? Or does it see itself as a transitional system better than the crap we have now, but which may need modifications to still survive or function later?

As for your comments about a "police state," that certainly doesn't describe capitalism, nor do I agree with your description of a police state. A capitalist

A system that would insure enforcement of all laws for all crimes and abuses with a high degree of reliability would seem to require alot more surveillance to insure that people don't get away with crimes simply because there weren't enough witnesses. But i'll let that point slide for now, it just "seems" this way to me right now but that could be because of the emotional influence of others trying to argue me against objectivism. :)

someone more experienced in it than me to describe here, but what you are talking about is a system in which the state exercises totally arbitrary power. That sounds more like any mixed-economy, or socialist sewer. I might suggest that you read this page to perhaps increase your understanding of this concept:

Read, and I understand, and agree with Rand's observations, much as I have agreed with all of her observations on everything i've heard an observation on so far. :) So please stop me where you think I go off the rails here:

I guess one of the problems i'm having, and as another example of utopianism, and you can interrupt me where I take the left turn, is that an Objectivist state is going to have to have more firepower (in whatever way) than those that would threaten to undermine it from outside or inside. If a rioting mob of starving communists want to loot Henry Rearden's steel mill, the state is going to have to have the power to repel that, otherwise it doesn't have credibility that it's protecting people from violence and fraud. The state is always going to have to be smarter than the predators from outside that want to game or abuse the system for self gain otherwise it wont last long. Now the dumb mob tries to loot Henry Rearden's steel mill directly. The smart clever mob would try and use the state to it's own ends.

Perhaps i'm not being clear so far, but my argument is not against the philosophy that the state should be objective in all things, but rather the practicality of how you actually make it work. What I am arguing against so far are not failures of philosophy (to have a response that is moral, or a judgement about the proper place of government) but a question of how you actually institute or grow such a system. I'll expand if I have to or give examples.

I would just suggest you listen to the ideas being presented and make your own judgement on them. I don't know what you mean by mental illness, though. Mental illness isn't someone being rude in a debate or someone refusing to hear another side, or someone so sure of their position that they are ruthless towards others.

I have read the ideas being presented. I agree with the morality completely so far. On paper the philosophy seems wonderful so far. What I don't see are ways to implement it or make it practically work in the real world of rogue state predators and organized crime without violating the very ideals it claims to stand for. I guess part of my frustration is when people tell me to read Rand's quote on something and I find it doesnt answer what I was asking at all because the person seemed to think I was asking a question about "what government SHOULD do" rather than "how do you actually do this without it going bad".

By mental illness I mean either an "everyone who disagrees with me is automatically an idiot" attitude i've met in some. Sometimes I agree that some people are just in denial and it's time to walk away, but i've seen it also used as an excuse the moment they get frustrated too. I wonder whether there are certain psychological (not moral) dangers in objectivist theory.

There seems to be a slight bit of confusion here. Rand and Peikoff never had a split. Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, not Leonard Peikoff or anyone else. The substance of Objectivism consists of the works of Ayn Rand and the works that she approved as consistent with Objectivism. Anything else has to be judged independently for what it is. As for splits, you might be thinking of the disagreement between Peikoff and Kelley.You can read about that yourself

Oops yes thats what it was, sorry.

I don't get what you are saying about mercenaries in there. What's to stop a bunch of mercenaries killing you? I don't know, you tell me? Kill them back? Or what's to stop the police from going around killing people? Maybe I am misunderstanding you, but I would refer you back to a conept called "the rule of law."

I guess it was part of my point about psychological dangers of objectivism. Although my feelings about the socialist christians I know who use guilt and fear of god to manipulate me and others in the past have changed after reading Atlas Shrugged, I know darn well I could leave money on the table without counting it when they visit and it will all be there when I get back. In a society where everyone knows there is no god watching, and nobody cares about how good of a person you are, and the only way to meet your needs is money, I think I would have to be alot more careful.

What stops the force of the police killing you is threat of counter-force, the same thing that stops any tyrant, not rule of law. You could have the law say taking bribes is illegal, and if there is a protection racket (like in mexico) it doesn't matter. Simply saying "governments job is to only do what we say" doesnt make it happen, there has to be teeth in the "contract". What i'm discussing here is not philosophy on morality or the proper role of government, but an observation of cultural degeneracy.

I know that Rand argues that "any compromise between good and evil can only result in evil". Probably all of my issues so far don't so much come from the basis of disagreeing with her philosophy about the role of government or moral behavior, as much as whether such a single-mindedly hard line absolute rule will result in the most effective and competitive society. (in a social darwinism sense) It's not that i'm arguing for morally compromising with evil, i'm asking YOU and others to tell me what you do when there is some other factor (psychology, the survival of the state itself, cultural consequences, eugenic consequences) which seems to apply so much pressure on the other side of the argument that refusing to compromise seems to guarantee the destruction of the society.

Do you stick with the ideal even if everyone creating the alternative ends up dead? Or is a temporary compromise for the purpose of survival, with eyes on the ideal goal which is still sought unceasingly what one does? Social darwinism would seem to favor the latter society rather than the former. (this is another example of what I meant by "utopian" I guess.)

If your problem is that you are living in some Objectivist society and no one obeys the law, then you aren't living under freedom or capitalism then are you? You are living in anarchy or a dictatorship.

I know that. I fully agree with that. I guess what i'm saying is "do the principles of objectivism actually result in a successful objectivist society in the end?" Does the dogged fixation on philosophy and morality to the total 100% complete exclusion of everything else (ignoring politics, ignoring protections against military conquest or foreign spies which undermine freedom, etc) , actually succeed in creating a society of freedom and capitalism?

I'm not trying to argue for compromise, even though i'm putting some weighty things on the side of compromise or in support of it. What i'm wanting to find out is that i'm wrong! :-/ I'm playing devil's advocate here. How do you make an objectivist society work in the real world and not just on paper? Rand has made very compelling arguments, I want to see them in reality. I'm trying to figure out how to actually do it though.

As far as Objectivism being a "knee-jerk" to various things, I can say this is definitely not so. Objectivism is kind of neo-Aristotelianism and these concepts of

Okay using 'origin' is a poor example. I guess I was trying to argue that the feelings seem to be fueled by being a backlash to 2000 years of social and religious control or that it is a heavy driving force. I do not believe Rand would have developed her ideas to the level she did if not constantly confronted by endless pleas of religious or social guilt, I guess i'm saying that because i've had an extreme overabundance of those in my life and so found Rand's concepts to put words to feelings i've been struggling with for years because something similar was already brewing.

Well now there is nothing Objectivist about this. Nothing. When Rand talks about voluntary associations and private contracts, she is certainly not talking about any of these things. For one, in order for a contract to be valid, certain confitions must be met:

None of the things you mentioned were voluntary or contracts.

I'm not sure I agree. Take the nuclear waste dumper - he offers to get rid of nuclear waste inside an objectivist society, the other party can refuse or accept. Consideration is in the payment for dumping the nuclear waste. Legal intent, well, I guess the question is would it be illegal to dump nuclear waste outside the community where it may affect 'people' but nobody in the society? Capacity, both the nuclear power plant and the nuclear dumper can argue they are of sound mind.

Whats MISSING is the consent of the third party - those who are affected indirectly by the decision, but are not a part of the decision. Two parties can make a contract that harms others all the time. I'm also aware that nearly anyone can make a claim they are unfairly affected by something and this creates a slippery slope of "what nonproducing party arbitrarily decides who has a rightful claim?" and i'm not suggesting that is better. This was the whole point of the example. It was intended to get an example of "when do third parties matter, if ever?" It's also the argument that if 100% of all humans on the planet will be protected by an objectivist government (which is fine if that is the goal, just state the goal is global objectivist government) from such abuses, what does the society do when it is too small to have such global reach? Thats why I gave the slavery type examples, is it considered free contract if you benefit from or buy the services of someone who basically stole what they have from others in the outside non-objectivist world?

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I agree with bluey (does that rhyme with phooy?) and sNerd. If you are interested in Ayn Rand's philosophy, read. Don't go for the most complex stuff first, like OPAR or TIOE. Galt's speach is a good start. Her published books are good. The Objectivist Newletter and The Objectivist are very important. But read a lot more because you will find that what you have said doesn't connect with her ideas. We'd love to talk to you then.

-

I have listened to Galt's speech in audiobook version over and over, just like d'Anconia slyly talking in Galt's direction at the party about watching money from my audiobook version dozens of times because I am simply spellbound and enthralled by the precision and clarity of words and rhetoric which I hear there. Again, I find absolutely nothing to disagree with in what i've read of Rand so far. I am so enthralled that I want to find other Objectivists and would join an intentional community of them if someone offered me a plane ride to Galt's Gulch.

That being said... I don't in my mind see anything that i've said so far to be me "not getting it" though or not agreeing with it, except in stating what i've read doesn't seem to answer to my satisfaction. I can get frustrated when someone quotes me something in seeming answer that isn't at all what I was asking, even if it's my fault for not asking or describing more clearly at the outset, so all I can do is try again until we both agree what i'm really trying to say or state. I think I understand at least the part of the philosophy laid out in just Atlas Shrugged well enough to quote it back in most situations to most people, i've listened to the unabridged audiobook multiple times and certain segments where key philosophy was laid out a dozen plus times. I agree with it enough that I can say it with conviction, from a moral standpoint, as invalidating every morality given me my entire life which involves me belonging to others or some mystical force and being their sacrificial lamb. I can honestly say that I would now die to uphold such a belief in freedom and my own self determination, even if the rest of the world said I was wrong in putting myself as a core Value for which I am willing to fight for struggle and protect.

So please don't take my observations and problems lightly. Just realize that i'm stuck in a process and i'm still learning to discriminate between which disagreements are really my own Mind, vs those put there by the religious or socialist argument of others just camoflaguing as something else without me realizing it. At this point the only disagreements I am even considering valid are those based on implementation. It's not enough to simply quote Rand or hold up a piece of paper with a legal edict telling a corrupt official "What you are doing is illegal", I am trying to figure out how to actually implement an intentional community and preemptively observing what problems are going to pop up or what the greatest risks to survival would be. What i'm realizing is that when I have a problem or observation that isnt answered either I don't understand what Rand's answer is to certain things, or she has no answer (which is fine, she isn't required to answer everything in every field), or some problems are inherently unsolvable but her answer is the most effective answer available, or the fourth possibility that I would disagree with her answer because I don't believe it would work (the "its utopian" argument). Every one of my problems or observations probably fits into one of these four categories, and i'm not sure which is which yet.

The best thing people can probably do is to try and paraphrase back what they THINK i'm saying or asking or observing and which of those categories you think the argument is really from (or if there is a fifth category I dont even know about yet), then we will see if we are on the same page.

So far the only thing that gives me some concern is that I dont simply want to memorize and parrot Rand's answers to everything, rather I want to go through the process of discovery and validation of each observation she makes. What makes Objectivism compelling to me is not that Ayn Rand said it and is worthy of worship and cannot ever be questioned, but that the observations she makes about so many things are so accurate and powerfully lead one towards certain conclusions because I have already seen the axioms proven endlessly in my own life in my interactions with others. Others have complained that Rand attacks caricatures/extreme examples of people that don't exist in the real world, I disagree. I came from a very religious and liberal leftwing upbringing and most of the people i've known in my life could be exact plugins of characters of the socialist mindset Rand is attacking. I am thankful to Rand for finally giving me a self-centric memetic immune system - so that now when I hear someone argue out of social guilt or religious edict, I can shoot it full of holes and not be carried down that line of thinking. I'm finally DONE with that crap, and i'm happy about it. Rand's arguments have allowed me to purge from myself any cultural system which demands I become the sacrificial lamb for it. So what i'm feeling is that i'm finally at the footsteps of philisophically getting somewhere instead of mulling around in kindergarten like most of the rest of humanity caught up in their religious falsities or social coercion telling me i'm a milk cow to be sucked off.

But...

When I try and figure out how to MAKE THIS REAL that is actually be a part of an objectivist society in reality (because I feel that even if it had problems it would treat me far better than my experiences so far in other intentional communities or playing out social theories have, where if I produce i'm rewarded and if I dont I get immediate feedback) whether it's an attempt to reengineer existing society or create an intentional community via separatism, I seem to encounter a number of problems.

My choices are either "shut it off and dont care" or to see whether there are actually any valid observations within either the feeling i'm considering something wrong or the disagreements which are not simply the arguments of looters or moochers.

The only reason I haven't chosen the shut it off side so far is I want to be sure that something is absolutely invalid before I permanently disregard it. I can permanently disregard the arguments of looters and moochers, I can permanently disregard the demand of others that I be a sacrificial lamb or that I hold up the world for them.

I have absolutely no problem with that.

But I am not so sure on some other areas, that's why i'm posting here. I'm not convinced my arguments are invalid or were properly answered, just perhaps either misunderstood or poorly worded by me, where I admit i'm trying to put words to something I haven't figured out how to explain yet so i'm just using either arguments i've lost with others or examples so far trying to illustrate a problem I see. It may take several evolutions of this conversation though before I can state more clearly though exactly what i'm trying to say. :P

I am curious about what I call the "failure modes" of an Objectivist society, every which way it could possibly be made to fail either intentionally or by accident from without or within, for the exclusive purpose of trying to engineer protections against exactly those failures, so that it would not just be an idealistic flash in the pan like many 60's intentional communities were, because they were idealistic - just communistic leftist idealistic. I have to be sure that objectivism wouldn't fail because it's idealistic or delusional in some way that's not immediately obvious, the theories of communism seemed reasonable to those that followed it afterall, because we are always blind to the achilles heel that brings us down. Therefore I test things, I push and prod at seeming or possible weak points to see if they will hold or whether the protections offered are actually illusory.

Afterall, Existance Exists. We either understand how things really work and act in accordance with it, or we act in violation of it and have consequences teach us that we were dumb and delusional. The only questions are whether or not Rand was 100% accurate in her logic, 100% wide ranging in her observation of all relevant factors, 100% inclusive of all other options in her analysis of alternatives, 100% proper in her judgement of what the cores, keys, and driving factors are behind the success or failure of not only her own system but others she analyzed and rejected, 100% comprehensive in either explaining all of these factors to others (or alternately in teaching the seeds from which you can find your own answers, which is what i'm really looking for), etc.

There, now you know a bit more about me, and hopefully you'll give me some slack and the ability to struggle to restate observations and concerns on things until they are more focused than before. If I don't get the kind of responses i'm looking for to this series of comments, i'll probably take a month off and work through some more Rand before returning with a new angle. :)

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A state which was the bastion of personal freedom and personal responsibility without a nanny state would potentially threaten every other government on the planet that exists primarily by feeding off their own people. Much like there were arguments in europe that the americans couldn't be allowed to revolt against the british empire or the desire for freedom would spread like wildfire and elites everywhere would be threatened. I think there would be substantial forces attempting to undermine such a state personally, whether low level parasites (at first testing the boundaries), or organized crime that would later try to establish illegal drug smuggling, or an abusive external government that would claim the land youre staying on and say you owe taxes to say some large regional or global government demanding tribute. I don't know that the threats would continue indefinately, but in the beginning establishment of such a state I would expect challengers from all sides figuring out how to abuse the system or whether it could be abused or corrupted.

For one thing... under Objectivism there would be no such thing as "illegal drugs" and hence no smuggling of them. (And the "street price" of something that you could simply buy at Walgreens would be pretty low.) The other things that organized crime makes money off of also would not be illegal. Organized crime makes lots of money selling things that should not be illegal in the first place, everything from prostitution to gambling to drugs, and would vanish overnight if they were legalized. (As an aside, I note that Objectism considers many of these things immoral in most contexts because in one way or another they are self-destructive, but since they do not violate anyone's rights, they should not be illegal.)

If you think about it, every problem caused to "society" (i.e., people other than the addict) by "illegal drugs" stems from the fact that they have been made illegal. Addicts stealing stuff to be able to afford their next fix? Well, the fix is expensive because it is illegal and has to be smuggled into the country at great risk, and fought over by the dealers (which is another risk). The violence? Same story--criminals defending their "turf" resort to violence against those who want to loot their cash or inventory, because there is no police protection of their goods. Overdoses? If you could buy the stuff at Walgreens, it would be made by a company that would be subject to prosecution for fraud if it did *not* impose some sort of quality control. The dosage would be labeled on the box.

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Lot's of good questions, Puppy Dog.

To answer one of the fundamental ones: Objectivism does not start with Politics and Economics. It does not say: do whatever you will, as long as you do not hassle other people. No, that type of view is advocated by some who call themselves "libertarian", but it is rejected by Objectivism.

Happiness -- the reward for moral action -- comes from identifying one's values and pursuing them. However, that is not all. Values cannot be chosen arbitrarily. The nature of human beings determines what is a value to us and what is not: a trivial example being that eating a certain amount of food is a value to us, while eating poison is not.

Other people can be of great value: we gain values from romances, from friendships, from children, and from people we do business with. It is a rational value to us to deal with such people in certain ways. A moral person is not held back from stealing because of a fear of government, nor by a fear of God, but because of his rational evaluation that stealing is wrong. It is wrong, not because steal is wrong "as such", but because it not the right, long-term, principled way to achieve values. There is no Objectivist commandment: thou shalt not steal. It is always: stealing is bad, because... If one takes away the reason (the "context" that makes stealing wrong), stealing would be fine. So, for instance, stealing an enemy's secret plans would be a virtue, because... (easy to fill in the blanks here).

I hope that gives you some flavor of way Objectivism approaches morality.

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For one thing... under Objectivism there would be no such thing as "illegal drugs" and hence no smuggling of them.

If you think about it, every problem caused to "society" (i.e., people other than the addict) by "illegal drugs" stems from the fact that they have been made illegal.

Umm... okay excellent point. Also interesting the separation between immorality and illegality, thats' getting me thinking in a new way.

Organized crime operates off of illicit profits. Things being illegal that shouldn't be being one favorite, and taking over governments since that is a centralization of both forcefully confiscated money and the ability to write laws backed up by force no matter how stupid they are. With the two favorite sources of funding gone, it would seem to have to resort to either direct thievery to survive (murder for hire, robbery - things by and large seriously hampered by private gun ownership and made near impossible by legitimate constitutional militas) or of course attempting to take over and subvert the society to "compromise with evil" and agree to give the state the power to coerce or regulate. Whether for taxes, or "the common good", or the benefit of some allegedly needy group.

Lot's of good questions, Puppy Dog.

And i'm still waiting for most of them to be answered by anybody. :P It's been a month. I may post separate topics with some of them to bring back in readers who may have bailed early thinking my post was dumb but I didn't want to spam the board.

To answer one of the fundamental ones: Objectivism does not start with Politics and Economics. It does not say: do whatever you will, as long as you do not hassle other people. No, that type of view is advocated by some who call themselves "libertarian", but it is rejected by Objectivism.

It is a rational value to us to deal with such people in certain ways. A moral person is not held back from stealing because of a fear of government, nor by a fear of God, but because of his rational evaluation that stealing is wrong. It is wrong, not because steal is wrong "as such", but because it not the right, long-term, principled way to achieve values. There is no Objectivist commandment: thou shalt not steal.

I hope that gives you some flavor of way Objectivism approaches morality.

Interesting! Would like to hear more about how Libertarianism is not Objectivism - i've often heard people say they are very close, just like someone for reduced government may consider libertarians alot closer than socialists or communists, but there are certain things Objectivism is very adamant about which give it a very different internal structure and attitude. (for instance, reading Capitalism Unknown Ideal about capitalism being worthy of arguing for on a moral basis, and not because it is benefiical to say technological progress in society and creating wealth for all, pointing out that beneficial to society is not a morality because it is an arbitrary grouping of individuals.

Though i'm not sure about the commandment - stealing would be about force or fraud and prevented by an objectivist state (I assume or I would hope so) and whether someone doesn't steal from me because they think its moral not to, or because they think God would dislike them, or because they are afraid of government doesn't make alot of difference to me. So long as there is a deterrence to stealing, the society should hopefully work. I guess thats part of my emphasis on practicality. A morality that is exclusively a philosophy of "why you should do X" which has no personal benefit seems to be a poor survival adaption, anything that is a poor survival adaption will not live long. An example might be the Shakers who didn't believe in having children, and now are dying out because there are no children to carry on the culture.

Part of my questioning was to figure out whether Objectivism is really the best survival adaption for both individuals and communities to take. Again i'm asking questions from a social darwinist perspective more than a morality perspective, even though the morality is admirable and sensible the more I understand it. My reasoning is that if looting-based "mixed economies", war looting and state sponsored scientific research are more effective at making societies good at surviving, then they are abhorrent but necessary just like any other animal adaption to the world that may seem horrible or bizarre is necessary.

If a nation of enlightened individualists FAIL to protect themselves from predatory superstates, fail to outcompete it in markets including ones starting from an unfair base, fail to survive threats by both other men and nature better, then Atlas Shrugged is nothing more than a caricature of wishful thinking, a straw man argument. (ie - a John Galt would never exist, and would never have a technological superiority over the looter governments) The belief that such a state will eventually collapse (as in Atlas Shrugged) may be correct, or it may be a fallacy (the ruthless men of the mind running the looter state may keep it going), but that will be little consolation to the dead inhabitants of a burned out Galt's Gulch.

Does anyone see better what and why i'm arguing yet? :P

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-------------------

And i'm still waiting for most of them to be answered by anybody. :P It's been a month. I may post separate topics with some of them to bring back in readers who may have bailed early thinking my post was dumb but I didn't want to spam the board.

-----------------

You can't write an essay with a dozen questions and expect to get much response from this type of forum. No one is going to do the thinking and integration necessary for you to connect knowledge in one area to knowledge in another area. You have to think and study on your own to a large extent. Asking specific questions about specific issues will get you better response, but essays with implications for applications that run the gamut from epistemology to morality to politics just won't get you very far.

You need to become your own expert in Objectivism. First, understand what it says, then distinguish it from what you hold. Then see where conflicts arise between you and the philosophy, and identify the principles involved to resolve the conflict. To expect someone to explain the entire philosophy across so many questions is an impossible task.

All knowledge is interconnected, so start somewhere and see where it leads you. But asking questions on this type of forum needs to be limited to specific issues, otherwise you'll get more answers that will take you in tangents that will only lead to confusion. In other words, don't ask about "a few problems I have..." ask about "a problem I have..."

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I think threads like these more properly belong in the "Questions about Objectivism" section, too. You aren't arguing in favor of a particular contrary stand, after all.

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You can't write an essay with a dozen questions and expect to get much response from this type of forum. No one is going to do the thinking and integration necessary for you to connect knowledge in one area to knowledge in another area.

Thats what i'm trying to do now, although i'm spamming up the boards with alot of topics. :) What I was hoping is that perhaps someone would see the proto-arguments that are forming in my head, recognize it, and give me a few quick easy answers (or book/page references) that would clear up the issues. I'm now splitting it off into totally separate posts and am considering this thread dead to further followup/i'm unlikely to read.

I think threads like these more properly belong in the "Questions about Objectivism" section, too. You aren't arguing in favor of a particular contrary stand, after all.

Well, I sort of am. I'm raising doubts, making counter-observations, and mentally playing around certain ideas. I'm not arguing directly contrary to objectivism because I cannot dispute any of it's observations or insights. Ayn Rand was brilliant. There is nothing to take for granted about producers producing without compensation or freedom, there is nothing moral about stealing from one group to give to another, certainly not from those who can produce easily to give to those who can produce nothing for no reason other than they NEED it, and most of all government cannot be a competent arbiter of what is right because governments are made up of people, and once you have a power structure incompetent or corrupt people inevitably inhabit it and make worse judgements that are then forced upon even the best of men.

What I was hoping is that somebody else had already had thoughts along the lines that I do, and would recognize what i'm posting, and be able to tell me "this is where youre going, and this is why your reason is faulty or boneheaded..." to save me alot of trouble. It's not that I dont want to do the work, i'm already doing the work, and am just finding certain things glossed over or seemingly ignored, and some of my arguments are getting canned answers just repeating Rand without actually answering the questions. I'm just finding that for all Rand's brilliance, there are things that just don't seem to be answered, and it's many things, in different areas, but i'm still grasping to find the right words, arguments and examples to actually make them open for public debate. As such my arguments are going to radically change both as I go through successive generations of appropriate response and learn more about Rand's work myself. I can only report observations about what seems to be true or what doesnt seem to be answered by the philosophy, even if i'm completely wrong in my assessment, so I don't want to come out too stridently against Rand, but I also want many eyes to look at my posts so I post some almost exaggerated examples of the worst abuses Objectivism would seem to allow because i'm hoping that it's not true.

I've always been frustrated at arguments that have one person not saying anything, not because they are wrong or have conceded a point, but are simply struggling to formulate into words or examples what the problem they are observing is. They can't quite explain it as a pattern that others can see yet, and so all the bystanders just assume they are wrong when sometimes it's not the case. Sometimes they just aren't very good or experienced at debating.

I think this belongs in debate rather than questions though, because questions seems more like asking what Rand says about (x) and i'm not really seeing her saying anything about the issues i'm raising.

So people please consider this topic DEAD, i'll followup either in individual posts or on the 'round 2' of problems thread (until that is dead). If you feel compelled to respond to something raised only here, consider copying and pasting the argument to a still-open thread or writing me directly. It's likely that questions are still unanswered and i'd like to hear your response, even if they are lower priority than other questions that i'm meanwhile posting. :)

Edited by Puppy Dog

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